The public sector is responsible for emissions through direct use of energy, such as the energy used in public sector buildings, operations such as roads and transit, water and wastewater, and other public services and infrastructure. The indirect impact of the public sector on climate change is difficult to measure but has potentially had a great effect.

Decisions on planning policy and procurement, which did not take climate change or indeed sustainability into account, result in the unnecessary use of resources and expenditure of energy. More recently, government policies have incorporated both of these ideas, reflecting changing attitudes to the importance of government policy and its influence. The public sector is a huge consumer of energy in Ireland and must endeavour to reduce its carbon footprint and help Ireland fulfil its responsibilities to the Kyoto protocol.  

More importantly, the public sector must take the lead in combating climate change, primarily by practising energy efficiency and adopting sustainability but also by encouraging and stimulating the adoption of best practices by industry, SMEs and individuals. The public sector must attain the highest standard, thereby showing that energy efficiency can be achieved. The government has set a key target of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the energy sector by between 80% and 95%, compared to 1990 levels by 2050, and zero or below by 2100. Every public service organisation is required to adopt emissions targets and to benchmark and report on their progress in annual reports.

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